All posts by Tanya Schusler

How will you earn your wings this holiday season?

By Maj. Gen. Theresa Carter
Commander, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (Provisional)

Like many of you, one of the things I enjoy doing every year during this season is watching the classic holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Many of us probably know the film by heart at this point in our lives. But for those who have not seen it, here’s a brief synopsis. The film is about an angel named Clarence who is trying to earn his wings and a man named George who plans to end his life by jumping off a bridge into icy water. The men cross paths when Clarence jumps into the water before George, to take George’s mind off his taking his life.

Clarence’s actions ended up taking George’s attention away from his attempted suicide and instead had him focus on saving this old man (angel) who was now wildly flapping his arms trying to stay above water.

George was ready to end his life because he was convinced things would be better if he had never been born, but — in fact — things would have been much worse. He wouldn’t have been there to save his brother from drowning, to help his neighbors secure desperately needed home loans or to provide a helping hand to his family.

George finally realized he made an impact every day in the lives of his family, friends and co-workers and pleaded with Clarence to let him live again. Clarence granted his wish and earned his wings by showing George how important his contributions were to the lives of others.

I never fail to take away a new insight or meaning from the film each time I watch it. I often wonder how many of us appreciate the impact we have every day on our fellow service members, civilian employees, family and friends. Whenever I have the chance to talk with students at Airman Leadership School, I always discuss the important role first-level supervisors play in the lives of the Airmen who work for them. Time and again in climate surveys, the one thing our Airmen say they value most is a simple thank you or a pat on the back from their immediate supervisor. When was the last time you thanked one of your subordinates at the end of the day for their efforts? Have you ever told them how important they are or how they contribute to successful mission accomplishment?

As we prepare to celebrate another holiday season and ring in a new year, stop and think about an average day at any military installation. Maintainers are preparing aircraft to fly. Aircrews are flying combat and training sorties. Combat support personnel are providing the infrastructure and services needed to support our service members where they live, work and play. Medical personnel are caring for our most precious resource – our service members, family members and retirees. Instructors are mentoring and training our future leaders. It’s not easy to keep all of these parts moving smoothly — every single person plays a key role and is essential to success.

Whether you are a supervisor or subordinate, recognize and understand the powerful influence your words and actions can have on those around you. I know personally of several individuals who decided to re-enlist rather than separate and, in the extreme, to live rather than to die simply because someone on that decisive day said, “Thanks, you’ve done well and we appreciate what you do for the unit.”

So during this busy holiday season, let’s take time to remember those who are deployed by sending a letter or email and checking in on their family. Let’s take time to visit those who must work over the holidays, standing watch at entry control point, operating control centers or caring for the sick and injured at our military hospitals. Let’s all remember to celebrate responsibly over the holidays by using designated drivers and employing personal risk management as we deck the halls and hang holiday decorations around the house. And finally, let’s take time to say thanks to the dedicated Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who keep our country safe each and every day. Let them know how important their contributions are to keeping our nation free. Let them know they make a difference every day. You never know…like Clarence, it just may help you earn your wings.

How will you earn your wings this holiday season?

Photo courtesy Picjumbo

12 examples of Air Force holiday cheer

By Sarah Swan
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Staff at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force searched the archives and found some examples of holiday celebrations and greetings from Airmen through the decades. As Christmas approaches, we hope you enjoy looking through these artifacts. Please keep our military members, especially those who are away from their loved ones, in your thoughts this holiday season and throughout the year.

ICYMI: SecAF’s first town hall

By Tanya Schusler
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James held her first live town hall, Open Door, Dec. 16, in which she answered questions from social media and Airmen around the world and in the audience. She addressed the Air Force budget, the importance of family support and her first year as secretary, among other topics. She also announced that there would be no involuntary force shaping in fiscal year 2015.

If you missed the broadcast, you can watch it on our YouTube channel. Lucky for you, we also have our notable tweets from Open Door.

Being a leader is about empowerment

by Capt. Joe Ahlers
97th Air Mobility Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate

When you look up a few quotes on leadership, common themes develop: leaders are visionary. Leaders show the way and guide those underneath them to success. Leaders take the helm, they steer the ship and they set the example. For lack of a better word, leaders…lead.

But just as, if not more, important to developing as a leader is learning to empower subordinates to take on leadership roles of their own. As impressive as one person’s credentials may be, they cannot alone be the stone on which a successful organization is built. Successful leaders know this and they cultivate strong leadership skills among their followers by harnessing a vital but difficult to master personal skill: deference. Deference means showing respect or yielding to an idea, person, or organization not of one’s own. Deference is not easy; leaders must make tough decisions and supporting a subordinate’s ideas or methods is difficult when the leader knows that they will bear the responsibility if things go wrong. Yet, a leader who defers to their subordinates when appropriate will have followers who are more invested in their work, produce better results, and are more dedicated to the greater success of the organization.

leadership

Take for example two supervisors, Jack and Susan. Jack dictates exactly what each person in an office project will work on and how they should carry out their tasks; he spends significant time re-working memorandums from his subordinates to conform to his style of writing and carefully scrutinizes the most minor decisions within his organization. Jack’s employees know they are merely at work to fulfill Jack’s task listing and do not make efforts to go above and beyond as doing so has little payoff in Jack’s eyes.

Susan, on the other hand, provides her employees a framework for office tasks but gives them latitude to explore and develop their own solutions. Susan ensures work product is accurate and sets general guidelines but believes it is important that a subordinate’s work carry its own voice and not simply her style or way of doing things. Susan ultimately makes the final decision but her employees see that she genuinely considers their viewpoints and trusts them as professionals. Susan’s subordinates are more confident and enthusiastic in their daily work and take pride in ensuring they take charge of their job functions regardless of their prominence.

Deference in leadership is easily applicable in the military. Even tasks guided by layers of regulation provide opportunities for leeway in how to accomplish daily tasks. Effective leaders nurture leadership at every level and encourage subordinates to become the expert and take responsibility for their work. If a written memorandum is wrong, fix it, but leave some room for the subordinate to use their own style; supervisors can ensure work is in the proper form and promote an employee’s confidence by deferring to their personal style. Provide subordinates a framework for how to accomplish a task and see what they come up with; you might be surprised to see a new way of doing things and you’ll drive the employee to work harder to impress.

In many ways, we are all leaders; we have raised our hands to guide the defense of the nation in whatever way we’re asked. But in daily life, leadership is much more than managing a task or directing a project; it’s about promoting a environment in which those who follow you do so not because they have to but because they desperately want to impress you and improve your organization. A true leader knows that empowering the skills and abilities of those who follow them means promoting the ideas of not just themselves, but all individuals who make up a successful team.

What kind of leader are you? What’s your leadership style?

PHOTO: Lt. Gen. Darren McDew, 18th Air Force commander, visits with Airmen from the 6th Medical Group at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 11, 2014. McDew toured multiple sections of the MacDill clinic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tori Schultz)

Military Appreciation Month: Spotlight on an Airman Week 3

by 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Editor’s note: May is Military Appreciation Month, and we’ll highlight a different Airman and his or her job once per week for this month. We’re truly grateful for the hard work each Airman puts forth each day, and every job — big or small– contributes to the U.S. Air Force being the best Air Force in the world. Is there a military member you appreciate? Tell us in the comments below.

Tech. Sgt. Charmaine Reed is the flight service center noncommissioned officer in charge for the 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. She’s been in the Air Force for more than 13 years. Her hobbies include scrapbooking, nail art, making diaper cakes and cooking.

charmaine

How does she portray Service Before Self?
Reed is always willing to share knowledge with the Airmen. She continuously tries to improve processes and doesn’t mind working extra hours to complete the mission.

Why did you join the Air Force?
I’m from a large family, and staying in St. Louis wasn’t an option for me. I’ve always wanted to travel and experience different cultures. Most importantly, the Air Force has allowed me to be a part of what makes America great.

How does your job support the mission of the 48th Fighter Wing?
We support the mission by managing due-in maintenance accounts and ensuring repairable assets are expedited to the back shops or returned to the supply pipeline for other repair facilities.

What drives you as an Airman?
I’m driven by knowing that I’m protecting the freedom and way of life enjoyed by my fellow Americans.

What skills do you possess that set you apart from other Airmen in your shop?
I’m always willing to learn new skills, and I don’t mind putting in the extra-long hours to complete the mission.

What has been your favorite place to travel in England/Europe, or where would you like to travel to?
I love being immersed in other cultures and experiencing them firsthand. Each spot I get the pleasure to explore holds a uniqueness that I can’t compare to any other.

PHOTO: Tech. Sgt. Charmaine Reed (right) teaches Airman 1st Class Eric Licatovich about incoming packaging slip procedures at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, May 15, 2014. Reed, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron flight service center NCO in charge, was nominated for a Liberty Spotlight because she displays the core value of Service Before Self. Licatovich is a 48th LRS flight service center apprentice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dawn M. Weber/Released)